Every year we say fall came suddenly. It is always gradual, but annually we are stunned by the change when taken together at a moment in time. Yellows, greens, oranges, browns amongst the remaining green appears seemingly all at once and lasts briefly. Every time. It always feels unique and it always inspires. It is my favorite season and the best time on the bike for me. I am a year round cyclist, but Bike Fall is where it is at, as far as I am concerned.
It is the time when the tires crunch as much as they smoosh. Both sounds add an aural warmth to the ride as the air cools. The visual stimulus is almost overwhelming. A bike ride on the Des Plaines River Trail or along the Skokie Lagoons or through the Forest Preserves along the North Branch is like flying through a kaleidoscope. The grasses are graying. The grains are browning. Beneath the earth, the green grass, the bed of leaves, the trees are magnificent.
At this time of year, I like putting on the layers. This is the brief period of time just before I don’t like putting on the layers. This is when you are good in jeans and a t-shirt. Maybe a fleece. Or, depending on the ride you’re doing, your kit with arm and knee warmers. In a little bit, you might need a set of wool gloves and a cap which will be just perfect with long sleeves and maybe a jacket. We’ve had brief bits way below this already, and we’ve had days of exceptional and unseasonal warmth, but in general, everything is within the manageable temperature variance now. When I am on my fourth and fifth layers and beyond, I wax less eloquently over the process and experience, but in the fall, it is in balance and dry days are fit to be ridden.
I like that being on a bike allows me to enjoy the brilliance of every season better. It flashes by in a car, on a bus, in a train. The bike is the ideal transport for the gradual expansion of your field of view. The perfect pace is achieved at any miles per hour, and in the fall I revel a little more in the ride. When I am training, I can ride faster and better in the cool air. I can layer and un-layer to stay comfortable. I can relax while I work in the canopy of autumn. If I am commuting without hurry, I can opt for a route through any number of parks, forest preserves, main streets, side streets, wherever and enjoy the season, the beautiful trees and the crunch smoosh of the ride.
The picture above was taken at Gompers Park several falls back. That is a beautiful place to bike through in the fall and the park planning that went into that park is particularly impressive this time of year. We’ll be starting the Tour of Albany Park there this Saturday. This park is one of my favorite places to visit in all of Chicago, and in my favorite season. I am quite looking forward to the tour this week, and quite looking forward to all of my rides between now and then as well.
Fall biking is truly the best.